Forget January, September is the new “New Year” for those with school-age children. (Spoiler alert: I don’t like September, so if you’re hoping for an uplifting read, skip this).
The summer is over – OK we get the odd “indian summer” day but by and large we are seeing the last rays of sun in the UK until about April 2019. Just that very thought is enough to send you scuttling to Amazon for SAD light therapy lamps and into a knitwear buying frenzy.
But, you say, the kids have gone back to school. Surely that is a good thing after eight weeks of faking family harmony and enduring 23 hours a day of Fortnite? Absolutely. I am definitely one of those women who are silently rocking in the corner by the dying days of August, wondering whether 11am is too early for a glass of “Whispering Angel”. To be clear, I do love my children but I love them even more when they are at school.
The first week of September is a crazy delirium of ‘buying stuff’: an outlay of squillions of pounds to rival Christmas on uniform, school shoes, haircuts and stationery. ( On the subject of stationery, just how many pencil cases does a 9 year old girl need and if she needs to have fifteen rubbers should I be concerned about the quality of her work that so much erasing is necessary?)
The difference between Christmas and September, however, is that there is no pleasure in the spend and you receive absolutely nothing in return, least of all the gratitude of your recalcitrant children who seem incapable of understanding how school and education could possibly add any value to their lives.
Just like New Year, September begins with the promise of a fresh start and resolutions for the new school year. The kids are bundled off to school, after the obligatory Facebook/Instagram photo of them looking all clean, pressed, brushed and totally unlike their normal selves.
It is only once you have reclaimed your house, fist pumped a number of times and drunk your first hot cup of tea since July, that you suddenly realise that now you have no excuses whatsoever to ignore yourself and the toll the summer has taken on you. Now you have to address the two and half tons of weight you have added to an already ample body and the functioning-alcoholic rosé habit you have picked up over the last few months. Just like January you are back in the yo-yo dieting, crazy exercising, alcohol-denying cycle without the impetus of summer to look forward to (or to scare you with an image of yourself on repeat in an eeny-weeny bikini).
To rescue yourself from the depths of September despair and the agony of food and wine deprivation, there is only one thing you can do – embark on a manic decluttering of your house. Yes, it’s that time of year again – the annual clearing out of the cupboards and the promise that this year will be different and you WILL be ruthless. Inevitably, you are not and the upshot is a largely unchanged house with the same overstuffed cupboards as before….except perhaps, in an overzealous fit of micro-organisation, you have colour-coded your jumpers, which will, of course, last no more than 2 weeks before returning to the normal rainbow jumble. If you’re lucky this cleaning and clearing frenzy will give you a moment of inner smugness and goddess-like domesticity as you survey your house looking the least like it has been burgled since January. However, beware, this feeling is fleeting, transitory at best because as soon as the children return from school then normal service will resume. Remember, for some bizarre reason – medical, genetic or otherwise – children don’t see mess and therefore don’t clear up mess (actually, it’s not just children that can be like that…menfolk anyone?).
So as you drag yourself through the final week of September, weighing exactly the same as at the start and dreaming vividly every night about drowning slowly in a massive vat of white wine, it’s worth remembering that at least “Strictly” has begun again and there are lots of new dramas with gorgeous male leads galore. Oh yes…and it’s only 90 days until Christmas!